Advocates Celebrate the Millionth Child Enrolled in Georgia’s Pre-K Program

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two children watch a Step Up for Kids presentation

Georgia Family Connection Partnership was one of 32 co-sponsors that rallied with Voices for Georgia’s Children on the steps of the state Capitol on Oct. 20 to step up for kids and celebrate the millionth child enrolled in Georgia’s pre-k program.

Child advocates at the rally compared that number to the one million minutes in a U.S. congressman’s and Georgia legislator’s two-year term of office, and challenged our elected officials to make every one of those minutes count for kids.

teachers wave posters supporting policies that support children

“We need to be able to help prospective parents—even those who may not be planning for it—to learn to be responsible moms and dads,” said Pat Willis, Voices for Georgia’s Children executive director and Georgia Family Connection Partnership Board member. “The community’s interests are well served when we invest in children before they enter kindergarten, not only in pre-k, but in those earliest years from birth all the way through 5.”

Willis called attention to the two million minutes that start at birth leading up to the day a child enters pre-k as a 4-year-old. She urged advocates at the rally to call on neighbors, co-workers, church members and our elected officials to make those minutes in every child’s life count toward becoming a responsible citizen.

“Despite the abundant research that tells us the first few years of a child’s life are critical in getting them ready for school, there is a disconnect between what we know and what we provide for our kids,” said Susan Walker of Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

Georgia ranks 42nd in the nation for child health and well-being.

little girl wearing glasses enjoys a step performance

“So many children enter kindergarten unready to learn,” said Walker. “We need to increase our commitment to our children. They will only enter school ready to learn when families, communities and schools provide the environments and experiences that support the child’s holistic and healthy development from infancy through pre-k.

The non-partisan event was one of many taking place across the nation to coincide with a national Step Up For Kids Day rally in Washington, D.C. Step Up For Kids Day draws public attention to issues that affect America’s children such as poverty, health care, juvenile incarceration, early care and education, child abuse, and afterschool programs.

Watch highlights from the Step Up for Kids rally in downtown Atlanta and keynote remarks by:

  • Pat Willis
  • Dr. Holly A. Robinson, commissioner of Bright from the Start, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning
  • Susan Walker, Policy and Research director at Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education
  • Roberta Malavenda, state leader of the International Parents as Teachers program.


All About Books Georgia School Age Care Association
Barton Child Law & Policy Clinic of Emory Law School Georgia Women for a Change
The Bridge Girls Inc. of Greater Atlanta
Brightside Consulting Services Georgia Association on Young Children
Childcare Network Haverty Hollow, Inc.
Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy Interfaith Children’s Movement
Georgia Afterschool Investment Council Nurse-Family Partnership
Georgia Birth to Five Coalition Paulding County Children’s Cabinet
Georgia Budget and Policy Institute Presbytery of Greater Atlanta Public Policy Committee
Georgia CASA Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, Inc.
Georgia Coalition to End Homelessness Quality Care for Children
Georgia Family Connection Partnership Refugee Family Services, Inc.
Georgia Oral Health Coalition The Rome-Floyd County Commission on Children & Youth
Georgia PAT Network Southern Center for Human Rights
Georgia Public Health Association David R. Strickland & Associates
Georgia Rural Urban Summit United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta

Learn how you can be a voice for children at the Voices for Georgia’s Children Web site.

William Valladares
Communications Coordinator
404-527-7394 (x114)
Edward McNally
Voices for Georgia’s Children
Director of Public Affairs and Communications